Vivo V9 Review

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In the bezel-less wars, Vivo has started off a new notch screen design on the Vivo V9 that looks completely big. It is not just another selfie phone, the company begins to pressurize on the dual-camera features that offer bokeh effects. While it’s nothing new in the smartphone industry, this is the Vivo’s first dual camera smartphone wrapped in a glass body, take a look.

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What’s in the Box

  • Vivo V9 with built-in battery
  • Micro USB Cable
  • Charger (5V, 2A)
  • Earphones
  • Silicon Clear Case
  • SIM Tray Ejector
  • User Guides and Warranty Card

Vivo V9 Specifications

  • Display: 6.3-inch FullView IPS LCD Display, Full HD+ resolution (2280 x 1080 pixels), 19:9 aspect ratio, 2.5D curved glass
  • Software: Android 8.1 Oreo, FunTouch OS 4.0 UI
  • Fingerprint Scanner: Yes, at the back
  • Face Unlock: Yes, AI Face Access
  • CPU: Up to 2.2 GHz octa-core Cortex-A53 processor, Qualcomm Snapdragon 626, 14nm LPP
  • GPU: Adreno 506, OpenGL 3.1+
  • Memory: 4 GB LPDDR3 RAM
  • Storage: 64 GB internal storage, MicroSD support up to 256 GB (dedicated slot)
  • Main Camera: Dual cameras (16 MP + 5 MP), PDAF, AI Bokeh Mode, Single LED flash, 4K video @30fps
  • Front Camera: 24 MP, f/2.0, Portrait Mode, AI Face Beauty, AR Stickers and Lighting Effects, Screen flash, 1080p video @30fps
  • Connectivity: Micro USB port, USB OTG support, 3.5 mm stereo jack, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.2, GPS, FM Radio
  • Cellular: 4G LTE, Dual nano SIM (GSM), VoLTE-enabled
  • Battery: 3,260 mAh Li-Ion (non-removable), Qualcomm QuickCharge 3.0
  • Colors: Pearl Black, Gold
  • Price: ₹22,990
  • Availability: Flipkart, Amazon India, Offline retail stores

Design, Build, & Ergonomics

The front design is something that you might have seen before, Vivo V9 comes with a notch up top resembling the iPhone X and other notch-enabled designs. You bet this will be the new design standards in the 2018 and later. Players like OPPO R15, ASUS ZenFone 5, and Huawei P20 are moving towards such designs.

Vivo V9 is far better in design as compared to the predecessor Vivo V7, the whole body is encased in a glass. Yes, it’s glossy, slippery, and fingerprint magnet, the design is, however, ergonomic, the edges are curved, it’s light in weight and fits well in the hands despite being a 6.3-inch smartphone.

It feels compact even though it has a large 6.3-inch screen, the bezels are almost invisible, thanks to the notch and the large screen. The top bezel is compressed, unlike iPhone X, it only takes a portion of the screen giving more screen area to be usable along.

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Highly Glossy
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The Infamous Notch
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Glass Unibody, Rounded Corners

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People would likely to see a type-C USB port if they are spending more than Rs 20,000 on a smartphone. If Vivo has made it to this far, the old micro USB port doesn’t suit the design while there’s not a single Vivo phone that adopts this new USB port.

Coming to the sides, the right side offers a power button and volume buttons and the left side has a SIM tray that carries two nano SIM cards and one microSD card. No, the dual SIM works with only one 4G SIM card, sad.

Display

The FullScreen display attractive people, the 6.3-inch bezel-less display looks bold and surely gets attention. The bezels are super thin due to it the screen looks really big. It’s the first Vivo smartphone to offer ~90% screen-to-body ratio.

Compared to the predecessor, the quality of the screen is significantly improved. With a resolution of 2280 x 1080 pixels and an unusual 19:9 aspect ratio, the Vivo V9 is considerably better in the display as compared to the Vivo V7 that uses a lower resolution of 1440 x 720 pixels. The display is bright, content appears sharp, colors look good, the overall display quality is right for this segment.

Since the screen uses a newer aspect ratio, not all apps fully support it eventually adds black bars to the top and the bottom or encounter a cut-out due to the notch when in full-screen mode. Thankfully, Vivo has provided a Safe Area Display option which forces the app not to use the notch area and paints the notch area with Black colors.

We explained how to get rid away of the notch cut-outs in apps on Vivo V9.

There’s not much in the display enhancements, it offers an eye protection mode, third-party app display ratio, and font options.

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App Cut-Out Due To Notch

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Software & User Interface

Running on the Android 8.1 Oreo, the latest Android build as of now, it’s clearly ahead of others in terms of latest software. On top, it’s layered with Vivo’s FunTouch OS 4.0 loaded with bloatware as usual. The software is secured with the Android Security patch dated 1st March 2018.

A new addition to it is the Motorbike Mode which allows you to ride safely on roads. When the Motorbike Mode is enabled, all the incoming calls throughout the journey will be rejected until you turn it off. All the notifications are muted too for an uninterrupted ride.

Other features include the iOS-like navigation gestures that let you navigate the system via swipes. At the bottom area, swiping from the left side to the upwards will open Control center, swiping from the center returns to the Home screen, swiping from the right goes back, and swiping from the center and hold will open recent apps.

The rest of the features are carried out from the previous version such as the Face Unlock, App Clone, Smart click., Smart Split, and a few more.

Even with the newer Android operating system, it still lacks the key features like quick apps switching and the native multi-window support from the recent button due to the FunTouch OS optimizations. You can switch apps if you enable the navigation gestures that lets you swipe to switch apps. Although it has the split-screen gesture but works with only a few apps, long press on the recent key doesn’t trigger multi-window.

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Android 8.1 Oreo

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Hardware, Performance, & Gaming

Talking about its hardware and the performance, it’s now powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 626 SoC consisting of eight cores clocked up to 2.2 GHz. The hardware although fits the pricing, the newer Snapdragon 660 would make a buzz and emerge with the best-in-class performance. The Vivo X21 which looks similar to the V9 sports a Snapdragon 660 and 6 GB RAM.

As there are a total of eight Cortex-A53 cores, the performance would be slightly below the Xiaomi’s Redmi Note 5 Pro which is also a selfie phone due to its high quality 20 MP front camera. It packs a Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 with Kryo 260 cores. The Vivo V9 further includes a 4 GB RAM module with the slower LPDDR3-type versus the LPDDR4X on the Redmi Note 5 Pro.

Take a look at the benchmarks below that we have performed on the Vivo V9. The AnTuTu, Geekbench 4 (CPU), and Geekbench 4 (GPU) scored well with points 90,237, 951 (single-core), 4654 (multi-core), and 3,557 (GPU) respectively.

AnTuTu Benchmark

  • 90,237 points

Geekbench 4

  • 951 points (single-core CPU)
  • 4,654 points (multi-core CPU)
  • 3,557 (GPU)

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The Vivo V9 also plays games and good for the casual gamers, the Adreno 506 performs the same as the one you’ll found on the Snapdragon 625. That means, all the moderate games will be easily played on the device without any lags and some graphics demanding games as well. No heating problems occurred on the phone, it runs cool. We have no complaints about the overall performance of the phone.

Storage & Memory Performance

Vivo V9 uses a 64 GB onboard storage with a standalone microSD card slot for expanding the storage further. The separate microSD slot won’t be a hindrance for the dual-SIM functionality, both the SIM works without losing the microSD card slot. There are no other storage variants available, there’s only a 64 GB option left.

Out of the 4 GB RAM, the user gets at least 1 GB free on idle, while we didn’t run out of memory problems, the 4 GB is enough for the daily tasks and moderate gaming. On the other side, the storage performance is a significantly better than its predecessor, take a look at the benchmarks below. The benchmarks indicate that the read-write speeds are slightly higher in the competition.

A1 SD Bench

  • 287.35 MB/s (Read)
  • 214.30 MB/s (Write)
  • 5,592.29 MB/s (RAM Copy)

AndroBench

  • 299.66 MB/s (Sequential Read)
  • 217.74 MB/s (Sequential Write)
  • 66.03 MB/s (Random Read)
  • 23.26 MB/s (Random Write)

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Cameras

Vivo V-series is particularly known for its selfie cameras, now that the company has added dual cameras to the V9, enters a different league competing with the dual camera smartphones. Vivo has now joined the dual camera tournament with its AI-based features and software optimizations to deliver the perfect portraits.

As far as the camera specs go, the Vivo V9 comes with 24 MP front camera and dual rear cameras (16 MP + 5 MP) at the back. While there’s nothing much to boast about the dual camera only being able to add a bokeh effect and no other special features, it’s nowhere near to the Honor View10.

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Vivo V9 Camera Specifications

  • Camera: Dual Cameras (16 MP + 5 MP)
  • Optical Image Stabilization (OIS): N/A
  • Rear Flash: Single LED flash
  • Features: Auto, Face Beauty, AR Stickers, Lighting Effects, Group selfie, Portrait Bokeh, LIVEOn, Watermark (model and time), Touch Capture, Voice Capture, Palm Capture, Timer, Mirrored Selfie, Geo-tagging, Tap to Focus, HDR, Color Filters, Burst Shot
  • Video Recording: Up to 4K video @30fps
  • Front Camera: 24 MP, f/2.0
  • Image Sensor: OmniVision OV16880
  • Video Recording: 1080p/720p/480p videos @30fps
  • Front Flash: Screen Flash

The cameras offer a bunch of AI features, the AI bokeh blurs the background keeping the object in focus and beautifies the face with AI Face beauty for the best Portrait. The 24 MP selfie camera seems to be same used on its predecessor Vivo V7, however, now with better optimizations. The images took from the front 24 MP camera offers crispier and detailed selfies in the daylight. During the night, it adds flash from the screen light, but not as great as we’ve seen on the Vivo V5 Plus with a dedicated LED flash and dual selfie cameras.

It’s worth mentioning that the Vivo is backed with its beauty features which also works for its rear camera. Moreover, the AI-features, AR Stickers, and Lighting Effects wholes-up its camera features. You won’t be surprised with the camera interface, it’s same as usual. There are a few options on the camera interface such as the HDR, Portrait Bokeh mode, Live Photos, Face Beauty, AR Stickers, Panorama, Professional, as well as other modes that include Ultra HD Doc, Slow-Mo, and Time-Lapse.

Here are the Vivo V9 camera modes explained.

The AR Stickers comes with loads of cool stickers, however, you need to download them separately. It adds effects in real-time similar to Instagram and Snapchat stickers. Other features include the Lightning effects that add different lighting modes like adding light on the face or removing the colors in the background without losing the colors of the face.

Speaking of the rear cameras, the result appears good and clear in the daylight, while average in the dark areas. The camera quality in the low-light isn’t impressive. The Portrait mode works well, the focus and depth can be adjusted after you take a picture, unlike the front camera. The overall camera package is good for the price, however not for the camera enthusiasts.

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Selfie Light

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AR Stickers
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Selfie Light

Vivo V9 Camera Samples

Battery Runtime & Charing

The Vivo V9 packs a 3,260 mAh battery and it is not giving any surprises. The battery is capable to run throughout the day on moderate use. Sometimes we got a day and above battery life with average usage or occasional usage. Rivals on the other hand offer battery backup, take, for instance, the Redmi Note 5 Pro with 4,000 mAh battery.

Vivo is still far from the fast charging, the stock charger is a 5V 2A which charges the battery in about 2 hours or slightly more. Our test suggests that the charging time could be anywhere from 2 hours to 2.5 hours.

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Verdict

Coming to the verdict, is the Vivo V9 is worth it for all that what it offers? To answer that, what makes Vivo V9 at least better in the segment are the FullScreen notched display and glass design, lightweight, mind-boggling selfies, a dual camera that’s capable of taking portraits, and the Android Oreo out-of-the-box.

Is it recommended? Yes, you should buy the Vivo V9 if your primary needs are selfies, latest Android, large display and a gorgeous design. If you are more of a performance-oriented person, prefer metallic body over a glass, and low on budget, you may look for other smartphones like the Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro.

Rivals

Strength

  • Bezel-less Design, Glass Body
  • Huge 6.3-inch Screen, Bright Display
  • Light Weight & Compact
  • Great Selfies
  • Takes Good Portraits With Dual Cameras
  • Android Oreo out-of-the-box
  • Loud & Clear Audio
  • Fast Face Unlock & Fingerprint Scanner
  • Standalone MicroSD Support

Weakness

  • None

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